7 Reasons Slow Reading Is Actually A Good Thing, Because Being A Speed Reader Is Overrated
I consider myself a moderately fast reader. I'm not a speed reader by any means, but if I time to devote to a book for enough time, depending on the length and genre, I can smash a 300 page book in three hours or so. So I don't really know what it's like to be a so-called slow reader...but I have friends and family who would put themselves in that category. And no one ever claims to be a slow reader without a decent side of self-admonishment. Sure, everyone wishes they could read a book a day, but with everything else occupying our collective brain space, it's a real wonder we get to read anything...no matter how fast you can absorb the words.
Yes, there are tons of cool things about being a fast reader, most importantly always being able to avoid spoilers, but in fact, reading on the slower side of spectrum can actually be super beneficial for you both mentally and intellectually. So the next time you have flashbacks of learning who died in the latest Harry Potter book before you got to the chapter or are feeling down on yourself for always being the last in the book club to finish the book, check out the seven reasons why you're reading style is awesome below.
It Can Help Cut Stress
In this article in The Wall Street Journal, one of the benefits of slow reading that was mentioned was a decrease in stress. Because reading slowly and really engaging with a book means putting away your phone and social media (which has been proven to negatively affect our attention spans) you can force your mind to focus on only one thing at a time, which can keep you from being mentally bombarded by the entire world inside your phone..which can often contain tons of work emails, social engagements and stressful news.
It Makes It Easier For You Make Knowleageable Connections
One of the key advantages to slower reading is its affect on your ability to absorb new information and make connections to other facts. By allowing your brain to more slowly absorb the facts of what you're reading (whether it's a short article in the newspaper or a long non-fiction book) you are making easier to connect to, as this article puts it, the "web of knowledge" you already possess, full of other facts, ideas, memories and, of course, stories you alredy have in your brain. This way you can make valuable associations between what you already know, and what you're learning.
It Helps You Grasp Deepers Truths Within The Narrative
Similar to making connections to your knowledge, reading slowly helps you pick up on more of the symbolism, foreshadowing, and other literary devices you might be glossing over if you're reading more quickly. This not only makes the experience of a book much richer and more engaging, you can impress all of your friends and book club members with your in-depth analyzations of the text. And who doesn't like to have some gloating rights every once in a while?
It Can Make You Smarter
According to this article in The Guardian that sites a book called The Shallows, by technology sage Nicholas Carr, our hyperactive online habits are damaging the mental faculties we need to process and understand lengthy textual information. Round-the-clock news feeds leave us hyperlinking from one article to the next, without necessarily engaging fully with any of the content. You might think hopping between tons of different articles every day is doing the opposite, but, in fact, it's actually keeping us from learning new things and absorbing that information. If you really want to learn more from your reading, slow down.
It Can Connect You To A Wider Community Of Likeminded Readers
You might be a natural slow reader, but you'll be happy to know that a lot of people are adopting the practice specifically to enjoy the many benefits, and the community is growing more vibrant. This article in The Guardian quotes author John Miedema as saying, "Slow reading is a community event restoring connections between ideas and people. The continuity of relationships through reading is experienced when we borrow books from friends; when we read long stories to our kids until they fall asleep." It's definitely easier to find your people now, make a slow reading book club, and reap the rewards of your reading speed together.
It Can Be More Entertaining
We don't speed watch movies, or skip our way through an hour long TV episode. So, if we can commit to a two hour film or an entire day of binge watching Netflix, why shouldn't we let ourselves do the same with books? Imagine fast-forwarding to the climax of the latest Marvel film or skipping the newest emotional reveal on your favorite drama. By speed reading books, you're basically doing just that. And it might have a time and place, but really indulging in the plots of the books you read by slowly absorbing them can actually be way more fun.
It Might Actually Help You Read More
It may seem counterintuitive, but by reading more slowly you might actually be able to read more than your speed reading counterpart. Why? In order to read more slowly and intently, you have to set aside actually time to read. Whereas a fast reader might grab 15 minutes on their commute or 30 minutes before they fall asleep at night, a slow reader can make reading a ritual, a commitment, and work their way slowly through more books a month than another reader can squeeze in only here and there.